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Texas Tech, TCU wins showcase Big 12's strength in Omaha

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Inspired Horned Frogs top Chanticleers at CWS (1:05)

With cancer-stricken 7-year-old "teammate" Micah Ahern in attendance, TCU defeats Coastal Carolina 6-1 to improve to 2-0 at the College World Series. (1:05)

OMAHA, Neb. -- Texas Tech first baseman Eric Gutierrez enjoyed a great view on Tuesday for the end of Florida's season.

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Jonathan India roped a base hit toward the corner in left field. As Tech's Tyler Neslony raced to the ball, India passed Gutierrez and turned toward second base.

Gutierrez screamed to his shortstop, Orlando Garcia.

"'Let it go! Let it go!"

And then to second baseman Michael Davis.

"Tag him!"

As Davis slapped the game-ending tag on India, Gutierrez could see the continued destruction of a College World Series bracket.

"I guess we just beat the No. 1 seed," Gutierrez said. "Right?"

The more we watch this CWS, it seems, the less we know. Miami, the No. 3 national seed, is gone. And now the pretournament favorite Gators are done after a 3-2 loss to Tech.

"It was the goal to win a national championship," Florida first baseman Peter Alonso said. "It feels terrible."

For the first time in nine years, the SEC won't place a team in the championship series. The league didn't win a game in Omaha. Neither did the ACC. Together, the two power conferences were picked on Memorial Day weekend to host 13 of 16 NCAA regionals and awarded 17 of 64 spots.

That was probably a miscalculation by the selection committee.

Meanwhile, what is West Virginia thinking? The Mountaineers finished fourth in the Big 12, with a winning league record, and played for the conference-tournament title, losing to TCU in 10 innings. They were not selected for the NCAA postseason.

The three Big 12 teams ahead of WVU remain standing among the last six in Omaha. TCU beat Coastal Carolina 6-1 on Tuesday night to join Oklahoma State at 2-0 and in control of its side of the bracket.

The Cowboys and Horned Frogs own the inside track to play next week for the national title.

The Big 12 is 20-4 in the NCAA postseason and 5-1 in Omaha, with Tech's loss coming Sunday against TCU. It has dominated the rest of the nation in June.

"I don't need to say anything," said Gutierrez, the league's player of the year who launched a two-run homer in the top of the fourth on Tuesday. "It's right there. It's not for me to say anything. It's a good conference. That's all I have to say."

For the regular-season Big 12 champion Red Raiders, the victory over Florida marked their first in two trips to the CWS. A statistic on the TD Ameritrade Park scoreboard before Tuesday's game indicated a Tech loss would place it among seven teams ever to drop their first four games in Omaha.

"I saw it," Tech coach Tim Tadlock said.

His team did something about it, playing spectacular defense -- from a fantastic catch by center fielder Tanner Gardner to end the first inning to Neslony's play in left to end the game.

Freshman right-hander Davis Martin threw seven shutout innings, outdueling Florida's Alex Faedo, a 13-game winner in what was supposed to be the nation's best conference.

The best conference now, when it matters, looks like the Big 12.

Tadlock said he has marveled at Oklahoma State's play in the postseason and the work done by pitching coach Rob Walton. Thomas Hatch threw a complete-game shutout against UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, followed Monday by eight shutout innings from Tyler Buffett.

The Cowboys won both games 1-0, a CWS first.

"I mean, holy cow, Rob Walton," Tadlock said, "that guy's a magician. For those guys to pitch like that and the way they have the last couple weeks, it's been fun to watch from our angle."

He might not find it so fun to face those Oklahoma State pitchers in a best-of-three series for the national title. Of course, Tech would have to beat Coastal Carolina on Thursday, then take down TCU twice to make it to next week.

"We're not here just to get a win and that's it," Gutierrez said. "Everyone's goal is to win a national championship. From here, it's possible. We can win here. Our team knows."

As for Florida and the SEC, the Gators scored one run in 17 innings before Alonso's two-run homer in the ninth. The 52-win team never found its feet, offensively, at the CWS. And its pitching staff, because of the short stay, could not capitalize on its depth.

A.J. Puk, the Gators' 6-foot-7 left-hander -- the first college pitcher selected this year at No. 6 overall in the major league draft -- worked to one batter in Omaha. He threw four pitches.

Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan insisted that nothing about this season rates as a failure for the Gators.

"If getting to Omaha's been a failure," he said, "I don't look at it that way. Of course, we're disappointed; of course, we want to stay here longer. But there's eight teams out of over 300 to get here. We've been here five of the last seven, and we'll be here again soon."

When they do, maybe it will be the year for Florida -- in search of its first national title. This year appears to belong to the Big 12.